Meet Brownie. Ignore John Mark in the background. Brownie is a legend and I doubt that there isn’t a person working in the admin level of Peace Corps who hasn’t heard of her. One of the first group of volunteers to go to Togo in 1962, country director of Benin, Togo… Brownie has lived in West Africa for over forty years and feel much more at home here than in America.
But let’s focus on why she’s a legend to me. She’s a legend because she opens up her home to weekly lunches and even throws a tree decorating party for the neighborhood kids. She also has an oven. She let’s me use this oven. While it is possible to bake without an oven, life is just better with an oven. And Brownie let’s me use hers as much as I want. But more than the oven, Brownie is full of advice. There are moments where the Beninese will do something that makes me angry and frustrated, but Brownie will explain it in a way that makes sense.
Brownie’s is where I go to chat, but I always end up feeling very full because Brownie likes to keep people well fed. I do realize that I am a very spoiled Peace Corps Volunteer, and knowing Brownie is definitely part of that reason. I wouldn’t change a thing though.
When I wore my asymmetrical circle skirt one day to Brownie’s, she commented about how much she liked it. I jumped at the chance to do something that could repay the generosity she’s showed me and told her I’d gladly make her one if she gave me fabric. Out came this fabric from… 1995. I couldn’t resist asking Brownie if she really had this fabric in storage for 17 years. She said that a friend of a friend gave it to her recently. Hmm, so perhaps it wasn’t her, but someone in Benin has been hiding this fabric for 17 years.
She requested my same circle skirt, but in a longer length. I was more than happy to oblige, but quickly realized my table at home wasn’t large enough to draw the arcs for her longer circle skirt. In my classroom at CIAMO, however, I have four large tables… and I can put two of them together to create a giant table enough to hold the fabric. The skirt was a quick afternoon project and I gave it back to her a few days later.
Today (now yesterday as I have to wait until I go into work for internet to post an entry) we decided to eat yam pilé at a former employee’s new restaurant. Yam pilé is made of yams that have been smashed to create a play-doh like mound served with an accompanying sauce, usually peanut.
Because of the longer length, I had to use 3 half circle pieces instead of 2 half circle pieces to make sure the flare stayed the same. This didn’t leave a lot of fabric leftover for the asymmetrical side piece, but I managed to still make a little one for her.
I also added a thick bias tape hem as I felt that with a skirt this long and full, a narrow hem would look too flimsy. Brownie is happy with the skirt, and I’m happy to have such a great friend and mentor here in Ouidah.
Pattern: BurdaStyle 12/2012 Skirt #128 (Actually no pattern, just basic geometry and math)
Fabric: Qualitex CF 662
Outfit Photos: Cathy W.